You only get one head – look after it!
There are a wide variety of riding hats and helmets available to suit all tastes and budgets, all designed to keep you as comfortable as possible whilst making sure you are protected to the recognised safety standards. Not all riding hats currently on sale will necessarily have a currently accepted hat standard.
Riding hats are designed to be as effective as possible at minimising any potential head injury, but as with all safety equipment, no riding hat can be guaranteed to protect every rider in every circumstance.
It is essential that a hat properly fits the person who will be wearing it, and as every head is a different shape, you may need to try a few to find the perfect one for you. The BHS always recommends you go to a reputable tack shop and have a new hat fitted by somebody who has had appropriate BETA training. It is also important to remember to keep your hat fastened at all times when you are mounted.
Never be tempted to buy a second-hand hat. It is impossible to see with the naked eye if it has been damaged.
The BHS has created a leaflet for you to download featuring frequently asked questions about changes to hat standards.
Make sure you measure up before buying a new hat!
All manufacturers make hats in slightly different shapes to each other, so there is something for everyone. Whether you choose a fancy, top of the range hat or a plain, less expensive one it does not matter – the main thing is that it meets one of the accepted standards. Ideally, it should also have a quality assurance mark firmly fastened on its inner alongside the label that shows which standard the hat is tested to.
Most hats specifically designed for children do not have VAT added to the price. Hats for children are made in all but the very largest hat sizes, as children’s heads generally stop growing when they reach around 13 years old. This information was identified by a survey undertaken on Eton schoolboys who are required to wear formal hats, as opposed to soft caps.
However, be aware that hats designed especially for children can be a slightly different shape to those designed for adults, even if they are the same brand. Always have your head measured and hat fitted properly when buying a new one to check it is the best shape for you.
You only have one head – keep it as safe as you can and wear a fitted hat that is fastened each and every time you ride out.
Caring for Your Hat
With care, a good hat will last several years.
Do not be tempted to leave it in direct sunlight – the shelf in the back of your car is definitely not a place to keep it. Protective properties of the hat can significantly reduce if left for long periods in direct sunlight.
Let it dry naturally if it gets wet, and don't put it on the radiator.
Don’t drop your hat or let it get knocked around. Each time it receives any impact, some of the protective properties will be used up and just when you want them to keep you safe, you may find that the protection you need is not there.
It is important to replace your hat after a fall, especially when your hat comes into contact with the ground. It is impossible to see with the naked eye whether the hat is damaged.
On the Road
Rule 49 of the Highway Code states:
Safety Equipment: Children under the age of 14 MUST wear a helmet which complies with the regulations. It MUST be fastened securely. Other riders should also follow this advice. (LAW H (PHYR)R)
Competitions and Events
Riders competing under the rules of an equestrian discipline, the Pony Club or British Riding Clubs should refer to their respective rule books to check which standards are acceptable under their specific rules.
More About Standards
All hats sold in Europe must be CE marked , i.e. declaring compliance with the regulations as stated in the European Directive 89/686/EEC on Personal Protective Equipment. A CE mark is not a hat safety standard.
When a Quality Assurance Mark is displayed on the hat it:
- gives the user visible evidence of the helmet’s quality, safety and performance as defined in the specification
- shows the helmets are independently and regularly batch tested by the relevant company or organisation to the appropriate specification
Any standard hat with a Quality Assurance Mark (such as a BSI Kitemark or an SEI mark) can be viewed as safer than a hat to the same standard without (statement taken from BETA ‘What to Wear’ publication).
For more information, contact the BHS Safety Team on 02476 840516 or firstname.lastname@example.org.